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What Trees Teach Us about Christ

Hope • Healing • New Life

I have an ever-increasing love for nature, and I’m particularly amazed by trees. They are nature’s gift that keeps on giving. There is a wealth of wisdom (whether you’re talking biology, history, or philosophy) just waiting to be unlocked in the study of these perennial plants. Yet, at this moment, it’s the spiritual realm that I’d like to bring to your attention.

The Bible story is full of trees. In fact, they are mentioned more than almost any other creation, taking a backseat to humans alone. Whether it’s the first chapter of Genesis or the last chapter of Revelation, the biblical narrative is ripe with references and allusions to these botanical oddities. In both the Old and New Testaments, trees are used to represent life (Genesis 2:9 and Revelation 22:14), beauty (Hosea 14:6), growth (Psalm 1:3 and Matthew 7:17), provision (Daniel 4:10-12), and the family of God (Romans 11:16-21). In poetic verses throughout Scripture, trees are even shown to sing praises to the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:33 and Isaiah 55:12-13). They are truly one of God’s most fascinating, sacred, and wonderful creations.

And did you know that our redemption and salvation also came upon a tree? In the gospels, we are told the story of Christ’s crucifixion—His death on a wooden cross. Two pieces of lumber, affixed together, held up our Savior as He took His last breath. Jesus’s life, followed by His death on a tree, then subsequent resurrection brought us hope, healing, and new life.

With all of this in mind, allow me to share four lessons that the study of trees can offer to aid us in our spiritual walk with Christ.

1. Make sure you are firmly rooted in the Person of Jesus.

As trees grow and flourish, they can become top-heavy, and if it wasn’t for their extensive root systems, they could easily be blown over by the slightest of breezes. In the same way, as humans grow in their understanding of the Bible and its many teachings, we can easily be veered off course by “every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). That’s not to say that the many doctrines of Scripture are bad, but we must strive to keep the main thing as the main thing (1 Corinthians 2:2). I appreciate how Ellen White put it in her Manuscript 31 from 1890: “Hanging upon the cross Christ was the gospel…This is our message, our argument, our doctrine, our warning to the impenitent, our encouragement for the sorrowing, the hope for every believer."

2. Bear good fruit.

Some trees are fruit-bearing, and these fruit trees contribute to a healthy ecosystem by producing oxygen and food that support life on this planet. Yet not all of these fruits are tasty, healthful, or even edible. In a similar fashion, we humans can bear either good or bad fruit. Thankfully, we aren’t left to figure out the difference on our own. Good fruits come from the Spirit, and they are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Bad fruits include (but are not limited to) the following: hypocrisy, deceit, strife, jealousy, pride, meanness, sexual immorality, and casting judgment. Both the fruit you eat, and what you bear, are important.

3. Bring healing into the world, not harm.

When it comes to leaves, all of them aren’t created equal. Alder leaves can treat fever, hawthorn leaf tea is known as a “cardiac tonic,” and birch leaves are used to alleviate several skin conditions. On the other hand, a simple brush with poison ivy, stinging nettle, or oleander can cause pain, suffering, and even death. The Bible tells us that the leaves from the tree of life will be “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). As Christians, we should strive, through the Spirit of Christ, to be like those leaves described in Revelation’s final chapter. Our words, actions, and thoughts can build others up, or tear them down. Each day that we represent God’s name on this earth is an opportunity to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

4. Enjoy beauty as the gift it is.

Trees are beautiful. After the third day of Creation, God sat back and viewed all the botanical wonders He’d made, seeing that they were “good” (Genesis 1:12). Experiencing beauty leads to joy, and as we joyfully bask in nature, we are reminded of just how wonderful God is (Job 12:7-9). The hustle and bustle of today’s modern world wants us to move faster and faster, yet there is peace offered in the stillness of slowing down to notice the little things that God created for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). Depending on where you live, towering trees are generally not too far away, and the next time you’re around them, don’t get caught up moving so quickly that you forget to “stop and smell the roses.”

Trees are tremendous teachers, indeed. Are we willing to take the time to learn from them, enjoy their splendor, and hear God speaking through them? Dear Friends, I leave you with this quote from Steps To Christ:

“Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy…Through the things of nature, and the deepest and tenderest earthly ties that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal Himself to us.”

by :: TJ Sands, Pastor in Edmond Oklahoma

About the Author: TJ Sands is an ordained Adventist Pastor living in Edmond, Oklahoma. He loves being outdoors and admiring God’s beautiful creation. He’s a passionate “people person” and enjoys connecting with folks of all ages, cultures, and beliefs. He and his wife, Sarah have been married for 4 years. TJ aims, through his preaching and daily life, to help others understand how much they are loved by God, and how they can live out their faith in practical ways. He has a heart for helping people find hope, healing, and wholeness in difficult times. The greatest truth he wishes to share is that there is a God, and He looks like Jesus.

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